Thursday, 6 October 2011

MEPs to call for 4.9% increase in 2012 budget


MEPs to call for 4.9% increase in 2012 budget

Independent MEP Nikki Sinclaire will oppose fellow MEPs who  will claim that an increase of 4.9% in the 2012 budget is needed to fund the EU's growth and jobs strategy.

The European Parliament's budgets committee is expected to endorse its final position on 11 October.

Francesca Balzani, a centre-left Italian MEP responsible for drafting the Parliament's position on the budget, stated this week that the main political groups have agreed that an additional €139 million (£120 million) for the EU's 2020 programme for boosting competitiveness, growth and jobs.

In July, member states controversially agreed to a spending increase of 2.02%, which would take the budget to €129 billion (£111 billion) – less than the €132.7bn (£114.5 billion) that the European Commission had asked forThe proposed increases will take the figure back towards that asked for by the Commission, which will be an embarrassment to David Cameron, who had fought to keep the budget down.

Balzani claims that the Commission's initial figure was the bare minimum” needed to meet pledges on regional aid funding and to support the Europe 2020 strategy.

Eurosceptic MEP Ms Sinclaire has hit out at the planned increase that is diametrically opposed to the Coalition plans in the UK which is cutting public services. Ms Sinclaire said "We should be spending British taxpayers money in the UK not increasing contributions to the EU that has not had its accounts passed by auditors for 16 years"

She welcomes the expected cut in the Parliament's administrative budget by €75 million (£65 million)This will be a first for what Ms. Sinclaire has previously described as "the parliament that knows no cuts."

Cutbacks would include freezing an MEP's office allowances to 2011 levels: an MEP's general expenditure allowance is currently €4,299 (£3708) per month. MEPs will also be asked to back a 5% cut to their fixed and annual travel allowances, which cover the costs of travel to Brussels and Strasbourg, as well as to meetings elsewhere.

The Parliament's position is expected to be finalised in a plenary vote on 26 October, after which negotiations will begin with the Council of Ministers. Talks are expected to start on 1 November, but the two institutions are still far apart.